Tal Alon

Journalist, Publisher, Berlin


It took me a few years to realize that being an Israeli in Germany is actually mostly about being a Jew. I’m ambivalent about it. I’m not sure I like this role. I feel like I’m forced to become some kind of a professional Jew, which I would never ever have imagined. When I was living in Israel, being Jewish was a non-issue for me. Ever since I moved to Germany, I’ve often been asked about my Jewish identity. With time it became clearer and clearer to me that Hebrew is the main component of my Jewishness, since language is such a crucial part of who I am in general.

Frau sitzt auf Stuhl
Tal Alon
Tal Alon
It’s my grandmother’s wedding ring, with the date “3.X.1942” engraved on its inside, hung on a necklace that also belonged to her. Both were given to me by my mother, after my grandmother (her mother) died. I like the notion of continuity and the feeling that I have both of them not only in me (DNA) but also with me.

Because I’m living in a culture that I don’t intimately and intuitively understand, what I do know about Jewishness feels like a lot compared to all the gaps that I have in understanding ‘Germanness’ and ‘Christianness’. My ‘Jewishness’ suddenly feels richer: I have a lot of references, a lot of songs, things that I just know. The gap, the absence, makes the presence of other things more dominant than they would otherwise be.

I was born in Tel Aviv, just like my parents. Both my brothers and their families still live there. We are a very close family. Being the one who left this very stable, solid family life, felt and still often feels like a disruption. It’s like breaking a continuous storyline. At the same time, after a few years in Berlin I realized that it’s actually also a very organic part of the story, since my grandparents on both sides came from Europe. So I didn’t just break the storyline, I’m also part of a slightly more complex storyline.

When I reflect on it, Germany is still such a hopeful, good place to live in. I think a big majority of Germans are still very much affected by the lessons of history, it’s still a powerful thing. So yes, there’s antisemitism, but at the end of the day I feel safe in Berlin. I can’t speak about the rest of Germany because I only know Berlin. But when you consider all the things you have to be afraid of nowadays in terms of the future - economic inequality, the climate crisis, dangerous political trends – for the time being, Berlin feels like a good place to live and to raise kids in. 

Tal Alon is the founder and editor of SPITZ, the first Hebrew magazine in Germany since the holocaust. Born and raised in Tel Aviv, Tal moved to Berlin in 2009 together with her husband and their two boys. Back in Israel she worked in leading editing positions in the Israeli media. Tal holds a BA in History and Political Science and MA in Political Science majoring in Political Communication, both from Tel Aviv University.